Exploring attitude-behaviour dynamics during COVID-19: How fear of infection and working from home influence train use and the attitude toward this mode

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, place - europe, ridership - attitudes, ridership - behaviour


COVID-19 infection fear, Train use, Attitude towards train use, Working from home, Panel data, Cross-lagged panel model


Research on the relationships between travel-related attitudes and travel behaviour has recently been reinvigorated by new theorizing as well as new empirical models. While traditional theories assume a rather static role of attitudes, i.e. acting as stable predispositions that cause behaviours in a unidirectional manner, recent models assume that attitudes and behaviours mutually influence each other over time. This study aims at better understanding attitude-behaviour dynamics by capitalizing on the circumstances presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It assesses how the fear of COVID-19 infection and (the attitude towards) working-from-home influence train use as well as train use attitudes. To explore the (within-person) reciprocal relationships between these variables, random-intercept cross-lagged panel models were estimated using a 4-wave longitudinal dataset collected during the COVID-19 pandemic from a large panel of train travellers in the Netherlands. The results indicate that train use and the attitude towards train use reciprocally influence each other. Those with stronger fears of infection in one wave tend to use the train less in a subsequent wave, but higher use of the train in one wave also reduces the fear of infection in the next. We also found that working from home (WFH) and travelling by train operate as substitutes for one another. Moreover, people who work from home frequently become more fearful of infection. All the findings are consistent with cognitive dissonance theory that people develop attitudes that align with their behaviours. The paper concludes with several policy implications related to changing attitudes and promoting train use.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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